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Justin Otstott
02-04-2006, 10:07 AM
Matchups that will decide Super Sunday
By Boomer Esiason
Special to SuperBowl.com

DETROIT (Feb. 3, 2006) -- Super Bowl XL is finally here. After two weeks of over-analysis and in-depth study and a few players losing their minds -- most notably Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter -- it's time to get it on. In my opinion, here are the most important facets of this championship game.

1. Seattle Seahawks LT Walter Jones vs. Pittsburgh Steelers ROLB Joey Porter:
Porter, who is relentless with his pass rush, can cause mistakes by creating pressure. That pressure has forced quarterbacks like Jake Plummer and Peyton Manning to throw interceptions. Because of Porter's speed, he has been able to expose the three left tackles he's faced so far in the playoffs. Many consider Jones as the premier left tackle in the league. Jones and left guard Steve Hutchinson comprise the most formidable offensive left side combination in football. From a defensive perspective, all it takes is one or two plays to gain the momentum needed to win. From the offensive standpoint, Jones will need to play flawlessly and not allow Porter to create havoc in passing situations.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger handling the zone:
Roethlisberger has been terrific throughout the playoffs, evidenced by his 124.8 passer rating. He's had huge plays in each playoff game, many of which have come against the blitz. Watching the NFC Championship Game film, it was clear that Seattle rarely blitzed Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme -- often leaving seven men back in coverage for the Seahawks. Roethlisberger is going to have to remain exceptionally patient and not get frustrated. If he is able to utilize his inside receivers like tight end Heath Miller, Roethlisberger should be able to continue his magical run.

3. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck dealing with LeBeau's 3-4 defensive scheme:
The Seahawks played in only one game this season where the opposing defense played a 3-4 configuration. That was against the Dallas Cowboys -- a game in which the Seahawks struggled offensively. In Super Bowl XXIII, when the Bengals faced the mighty offensive juggernaut San Francisco 49ers, **** LeBeau just happened to be the Cincinnati defensive coordinator. Who was the quarterbacks coach for the 49ers? None other than Mike Holmgren. For over three-and-a-half quarters, the Bengals defense (LeBeau's 3-4) was able to contain the 49ers offense. There are a lot of similarities between the Pittsburgh defense of today and the Cincinnati defense back then. And of course there are a great deal of similarities between the San Francisco offense of old and the Seattle offense of today. It will be important for Hasselbeck to be on his game to deal with the deceptive nature of LeBeau's defense. One way to do that would be to play an up-tempo offensive game plan and not allow the Steelers to shift and move around on defense. In other words, get in and out of the huddle quickly, get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball. Be the complete opposite of the Indianapolis Colts.

4. The intangibles:
The intangibles are rarely obvious. Which team has the mental edge going into this game? If you are the Seahawks, you are 15-3, the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have not lost a meaningful game since October, yet you find yourself as the underdog here at Super Bowl XL. I remember what that felt like prior to Super Bowl XXIII. Former players, media types and so-called experts are all picking the Steelers to win here in Detroit. Now if that isn't a lack of respect then I don't know what is. Holmgren can play the underdog role very well. Every coach is always looking for an edge. Bill Cowher has lived on that edge since the playoffs began. And now his team is everyone's favorite. So the emotional advantage has to go to Holmgren and his Seahawks, which in turn should make this game competitive.

All in all, it's about the Seattle offense's ability to handle Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense and the pressure that Porter and safety Troy Polamalu will try to deliver. It's important for Roethlisberger to be patient and control his emotions as he faces Seattle's zone coverages. And finally, who makes the key turnover is always the No. 1 question. Both coaches have told me that like every game they've played, they preach ball security because like all of us who have played, they realize that the most precious commodity in a football game after all, is the football.

I, too, like Pittsburgh in this hotly contested affair, but like the Cincinnati Bengals back in Super Bowl XXIII, I know the Seahawks are seething because of the perceived lack of respect. They will definitely be up to the task of meeting the Steelers' intensity.

Source: www.superbowl.com

BlackNGold203
02-04-2006, 10:54 AM
The key to me is Holmgren/Hasselbeck vs. Lebeau...I honestly do not think Seattle has seen a defense as disguised as ours. As in any game..adjustments win games...Indy and Denver didnt or couldnt adjust...can Seattle?...I guess we'll see

Suitanim
02-04-2006, 04:22 PM
Since everyone has different "Key" match-ups:

Porter vs. Jones is now a media creation. If we tie up the best Squack OL with Porter, we win all the other mismatches down the line.

Ben handling the zone is a joke...not even worth discussing.

Hass vs the 3-4 is a great key matchup. And that matchup may end up being Troy vs Hass, and, since Troy will be the best player on the field Sunday, I give the Steelers the edge.


Interesting that Boom leaves out the one clearly dominant aspect of the Steelers game: Special Teams.

Intangibles...well, I don't see either team getting all that much disrespect or vice-versa. 3.5 is hardly disrespect. Since this is going to be a 75% Steelers crowd, it's basically a .5 disadvantage for the Squaks.

MagicHawk
02-04-2006, 05:21 PM
As usual the talking heads have no idea what they are talking about. As was already pointed out Porter will seldom be matched up with Jones and just like special teams has been left out so has Stevens which will a huge key for both teams. He does have something right (every dog has its day) we are quietly seething at love affair everybody has for the Steelers. Not that it has ever been any different all season or not expected given the location of the game. And the fact that the Steelers have a rich tradition with a loyal, national following unlike us, yet....